WASHINGTON, D.C. — Bishop John E. Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, said the lack of a resounding decision in the Nov. 3 presidential election left him feeling as if “I woke up on Christmas morning with coal in my stocking.”
As no clear winner had been announced by the following day, he said it was “not only a letdown, but an occasion to ask, ‘What did I do wrong?’ or ‘What did I get wrong?'”
In an impassioned reflection on the website for Pax Christi USA, the bishop-president of the organization wrote:
“I, for one, was hoping for a resounding vote for participatory democracy as we know it, for a measured and scientific approach to the current global pandemic, for humanitarian and life-affirming policies at our southern border, for affirmation of human rights and dignity, for confirming the importance of three separate but equal branches of government in our Constitution, for civility and decency, for facts and the truth, for progress in dismantling systematic racism … for normalcy.”
“Was it misplaced to think that our American values and ideals, never fully realized but always a solid point of reference, would drive the majority of voters?” Stowe asked. “Was I naïve in trusting that people know better than to accept as fact that which is clear and obvious fabrication? I hope not, but I still find myself questioning.”
In prayer and looking to God for answers, he said Scripture spoke to him via 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In all circumstances give thanks.”
“Gratitude is an attitude changer for sure,” he continued. “When I began to figure out how to give thanks, I thought of our Black sisters and brothers joined by hundreds and thousands of others on the streets of our cities and rural communities to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
“I thought of the Parkland (Florida) high school students who worked so hard to remind the nation that we are to be self-governing and want so badly to spare others the horror that they experienced,” he wrote. “I thought of Dreamers who continue to work hard and study hard and embody all of the values, effort and energy of my immigrant grandparents and those who came to this land in previous generations.”
He added, “I thought of the outcry that this nation made so loudly that the separation of children from parents at the border had to stop — at least temporarily.”
Stowe also said he thought of Catholics seeking to reconcile their morals with the choices in front of them on the ballot.
“Whoever attains the magic 270 electoral votes will need to be held accountable,” he said. “Whoever leads us forward will need help in uniting a bitterly divided nation. Whoever emerges as president will need to be reminded that our democracy is fragile, to be cherished, and needs serious repair.”
He asked for prayers for a “just and peaceful conclusion to these elections and for all who will be affected by the outcome.”
“We study the story of our democracy, the teachings of our faith, and how they work together to promote the dignity of the human person and progress for the common good,” Bishop Stowe added. “And we will work to make that vision become real, and to be instruments of healing for all who have been excluded and do not have the luxury of waiting.”